India’s impact investing market is burgeoning, and impact measurement and management is becoming increasingly important in driving its progress. This report is an effort to capture the current state of industry-wide impact measurement and management in India. Based on surveys of 26 impact funds across the country, the report also provides a framework for evaluating measurement and management strategy at each stage of the investment lifecycle. Read it here.
Impact Measurement and Management in India: A Position Paper
China Social Enterprise and Social Investment Landscape Report 2019
This report, jointly launched by China Social Enterprise and Impact Investment Forum (CSEIF) and Narada Foundation, depicts the fast-growing social investment landscape in China. Findings are based on surveys and data collected on four key components of the ecosystem: social enterprises, social investors, supporting intermediaries, and enabling policies. The report discusses the challenges, opportunities and trends observed in this field. Read it here.
Who’s Doing Good
Azim Premji tops EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2020. In addition, Premji is also recognized for being one of the world’s leading donors to Covid-19 relief efforts, with a combined donation of Rs1,125 crore (approximately US$152 million) from Wipro, Wipro Enterprises, and the Azim Premji Foundation. Shiv Nadar, founder-chairman of HCL, ranks second, followed by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries. The list showcases a total of 112 people, whose combined donations increased by 175% to INR12,050 crore (approximately US$1.6 billion) in 2020.
Forbes Asia releases its 14th annual Heroes of Philanthropy list. While this year’s list is unranked and excludes donations made by companies, it shines a light on 15 individual philanthropists in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of this year’s biggest donors focused on the Covid-19 pandemic: Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing gave US$32 million to various aid initiatives and Japan’s Tadashi Yanai gave US$105 million to research and vaccine development. Other philanthropists, like Vietnam’s Pham Nhat Vuong, continued to contribute to causes such as education, alongside contributing to relief efforts.
Finding the way forward in post-Covid-19 Asia. Covid-19 has made it clear that governments, donors, and the social sector all have an indispensable role in helping societies build back stronger from the pandemic. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights the strengths and opportunities for 18 economies in Asia to build a more enabling environment for such philanthropy to reach the neediest. In our latest webinar series, CAPS’ Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed share country-specific findings on Pakistan, India, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, and Hong Kong.
Educate Girls among the world’s 100 most inspiring innovations in K12 education. The nonprofit, which works for girls’ education in the remotest villages of India, has announced its selection in HundrED 2021 Global Collection—an annual list that highlights 100 of the most impactful innovations in K12 education from around the world. Educate Girls’ innovation was reviewed by 150 Academy Members consisting of academics, educators, innovators, funders, and leaders from over 50 countries. Since 2007, Educate Girls has enrolled over 750,000 girls in schools, improving learning outcomes for over 1.3 million children. The nonprofit is also well-known for spearheading the world’s first Development Impact Bond in education.
Interview with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala on how businesses can be a force for good. In conversation with the McKinsey Quarterly, the chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation discusses macro trends among businesses in Asia and how they’re responding to complex challenges during Covid-19. In the interview, Ayala describes his own learnings and how the Ayala Group responded to the pandemic by prioritizing its employees, upholding its broad ecosystem, and supporting the community at large, especially those most economically vulnerable. The Group also joined forces with other companies to support the government in meeting the immediate needs of communities—underscoring the importance of partnership at a time when both the will and resources required are beyond any one sector’s capacity to provide.
Social bonds strengthen foothold in Asia credit market. Globally, issuance of social bonds shot up more than five times to approximately US$105 billion as of October 2020. Amidst Covid-19, new debt is being increasingly redirected to social and sustainability bonds targeted at supporting rising public health needs and growing economic disparity. This is true in Asia, too, where distribution of social bonds rose 29% this year through June 15 from a year earlier. This augurs well for the region, where Asian governments and institutions have been slow to issue social bonds. Yet, this redirection comes at a cost: green bond issuance in Asia-Pacific in the second quarter of 2020 fell to its lowest level in more than three years.
The Australian Government and Macquarie Group Foundation support Filipina entrepreneurs. Together with the Macquarie Group Foundation, Australia is committing to an investment program of over P43 million (approximately US$900,000) to aid Filipino women who own small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs (RISE) Fund aims to help the Philippines build back better by supporting women-led SMEs. Australian ambassador to the Philippines stressed that Filipino women “will play a central role in the recovery from Covid-19 and should have an equal part in a more resilient, inclusive, and broad-based Philippines.”
ABAC Indonesia, Mandiri Capital join forces to invest in start-ups with social impact. APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Indonesia, the private-sector arm of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, has partnered with venture capital firm Mandiri Capital to launch a new fund that will invest in startups with social impact. The Indonesia Impact Fund (IIF) will focus on investing in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups related to five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): poverty alleviation, sustainable cities and affordable housing, high-quality and accessible education, increased economic participation for women, and affordable health care. The firm aims to raise US$10 million in assets under management by its first close of funding in the second quarter of 2021.
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Who’s Doing Good
Raymond Roy Wong, Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of journalism’, donates HK$50 million (US$6.45 million) to Baptist University school of communication. The donation will be used to establish the Dorothy Shen Wong Memorial Fund, in honor of Wong’s late wife. The fund will support the teaching of media ethics, help advance practicing journalists, and provide scholarships for outstanding journalism students. The donation will also go towards setting up the first-ever Endowed Professorship in Media Ethics and Professional Journalism Fellowship at the university, alongside scholarships for students to acquire global exposure in the journalism field. Wong’s donation is the biggest single donation the school has received to date.
In the Philippines, tax perks await donors of computers and supplies to public schools. With schools having to transition to blended learning and online classes during Covid-19, donations of needed technology to public schools will now be rewarded with tax deductions. These new tax perks under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will be applied to donations of personal computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, printers, and other similar equipment. During the implementation period of the Bayanihan 2 Law (September 15 to December 19, 2020), corporate and individual donors will qualify for deductions from their gross income equivalent to the amount of donation. Further, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said that foreign donations will be exempt from value-added tax (VAT) as well as the requirement for ‘authority to release imported goods’ (ATRIG) to speed up the distribution of donations.
Companies in the Philippines are stepping up to support distance learning during Covid-19. Coca-Cola Philippines donated 200 desktop computers to its employees to support distance learning for their children during the pandemic. Gokongwei Brothers Foundation and Robinson’s Land Corporation donated 50 desktop computers and 10 laptops to Pasig City to support the local government unit’s fight against Covid-19. PLDT, its subsidiary Smart Communications, and PLDT Enterprise have teamed up with over a hundred schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, as well as Microsoft and Google, to make connectivity and digital solutions more accessible to the education sector. This includes discounted PLDT Home Wifi and Smart Bro Pocket Wifi units, pre-loaded 5G-ready SIM cards, and software licenses, among other digital solutions.
Philippine conglomerate Ayala closes new VC fund at US$180 million. Ayala Corporation’s new global venture capital fund is now the largest VC fund to emerge out of the Philippines. The Active Fund—short for Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture—plans to inject between US$2 million to US$10 million into global startups in their series A to series D stages. The Fund will focus on fintech, ecommerce, construction tech, and proptech ventures, as well as companies aiming to solve urban city issues in Asia. The fund will be managed by Kickstart Ventures, a subsidiary of Globe Telecom.
Sony doubles down on ESG goals amid coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Sony adopted an official mandate to increase its focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors and be an active stakeholder in the global community. During Covid-19, Sony has accelerated its ESG initiatives, including the launch of its own US$100 million fund for Covid-19 relief efforts in March. In addition to donating to education—such as supplying free programming learning kits in Japan, China, and the United States—the company has also deployed funds to aid those in the music industry. As part of its environmental initiatives, Sony has set up a separate fund to support startups developing environmental technologies, with plans to invest US$9.46 million over the course of the next three to five years. Alongside these and other ESG efforts, the company also aims to achieve a “zero environmental footprint” by 2050.
NagaWorld Kind Hearts donates US$2 million to Water Wells Foundation. NagaWorld Kind Hearts, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of NagaWorld, Cambodia’s largest hotel and gaming resort, announced a US$2 million donation to the Water Wells Foundation. This donation is NagaWorld’s answer to the Royal Government’s call for assistance in the sustainable rural development of Cambodia. Since 2014, NagaWorld Kind Hearts has conducted a range of CSR activities in Cambodia focused on education enhancement, community engagement, sports development, and environmental care, as well as aiding the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts over the past year.
Indonesia may have quietly beaten dengue fever. Indonesian researchers have quietly achieved a major breakthrough that could lead to the elimination of dengue fever—a mosquito-borne disease that affects around 8 million Indonesians per year. Working with the Tahija Foundation and Jogjakarta’s Gadja Mahda University, the World Mosquito Program has made stunning strides in efforts to reduce incidences of dengue in parts of Indonesia. This article details how trials in Jogjakarta have successfully increased the percentage of mosquitos with Wolbachia, which can help block the transmission of dengue and other viruses like zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. This development is timely as Indonesia’s Health Ministry reported in June 2020 that 400 cities and districts across the country have recorded cases of double infection, where dengue and Covid-19 have occurred together in one patient.
Bridging the food waste and food insecurity gap: how Singaporeans are doing their part. Singapore’s food waste has risen by one fifth in the last decade, yet many remain without access to nutritious meals. This article highlights some recent innovations—from virtual food banking apps to social enterprise cloud kitchens—and how government, businesses, and nonprofits are coming together to ensure quality food donations and efficient distribution. These innovations and collaborations are also giving a boost to struggling sectors of the economy, such as the F&B industry. New sources of funding are also emerging in this area: DBS Foundation introduced a new Zero Food Waste category to its grant program this year and the government’s National Environment Agency announced a SG$1.76 million (approximately US$1.3 million) Food Waste Fund to cover the cost of implementing food waste treatment solutions for local organizations.
IN OTHER NEWS…
Tencent’s 9/9 Charity Day breaks fundraising records once again, but gains are unequally distributed. The year’s 9/9 Charity Day raised a record-breaking total of nearly US$450 million in donations. However, a recent report by the Charity Forum found that one-third of the total donations went to four big organizations—the Chongqing Charity Federation, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children, and Henan and Shaanxi provincial charity federations—all of which are organized and backed by the state. This leaves hundreds of smaller nonprofits and grassroots organizations competing for the remaining donations. Another report by Sixth Tone also raises the concern that after years of competing with these charity giants, some smaller nonprofits have ceased to participate at all.
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Who’s Doing Good
Philanthropists in Indonesia rally to support arts during crisis. Indonesia’s philanthropists are calling upon their peers to support the arts during Covid-19, pointing to the creative industry’s role in propping up regional economies across the country. However, Indonesian Arts Coalition board executive Linda Hoemar Abidin points out that there are a number of regulatory bottlenecks that prevent corporate and individual philanthropists from donating to the sector. One example is that only up to 5% of corporate income is eligible for tax deductions for charitable donations. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that Indonesia has one of the lowest limits on eligible income, virtually cancelling out the incentivizing effect of tax deductions. The former finance minister suggested allowing wider tax breaks as part of the government’s super deduction tax program—issued last year—to encourage businesses and philanthropists to fund the creative industry. The super tax deduction initiative offers a major tax cut of up to 300% aimed at boosting investment, research and development, and the participation of businesses in improving Indonesia’s human resources.
Hong Kong’s richest man steps up donations amid downturn. Li Ka-shing’s charity is donating HK$170 million (US$22 million) to four local universities to further aid the city, which has been battered by political turmoil, Covid-19, and an economic downturn. The donation will be used to help establish biochemistry, biomedical, and sustainable technology research facilities, as well as artificial intelligence learning and teaching solutions. In a statement from the charity, Li said that he made the donation “to advance education excellence amidst uncertainties.” Li has already given away at least US$206 million in the past year to local universities, small businesses, and medical services in Hong Kong amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tencent co-founder Charles Chen’s Yidan Prize unveils 2020 award winners. The Yidan Prize Foundation, a global philanthropic education foundation set up by Charles Chen, announced the winners of its 2020 Yidan Prize. The prize recognizes individuals and teams who have contributed significantly to education research and education development. This year the Yidan Prize for Education Research will be awarded to Stanford University Professor Carl Weiman. The Yidan Prize for Education Development will be awarded to Lucy Lake and Angeline Murimirwa from the Campaign for Female Education. Charles Chen lauded the laureates in a statement, “The outstanding achievements and commitment of this year’s laureates demonstrate that in a post-pandemic world, education continues to be of vital importance to solving future problems and creating positive change in individuals, communities, and the environment.”
Walmart Foundation announces two new grants to help India’s smallholder farmers. The philanthropy arm of retail giant Walmart announced two new grants totaling US$4.5 million to help improve farmer livelihoods in India. Specifically, the grants will help two NGOs, Tanager and PRADAN, to scale their efforts in helping farmers. Tanager will receiver over US$2.6 million to extend its Farmer Market Readiness Program and help farmers in Andhra Pradesh. PRADAN will receive US$1.9 million to launch its Livelihood Enhancement through Market Access and Women Empowerment (LEAP) program in West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand in eastern India. These two grants are part of a commitment Walmart made in September 2018 to invest US$25 million over five years for improving farmer livelihoods in India.
Citi steps up its commitment to youth employment, skills development, and innovation across Asia Pacific. Citi and the Citi Foundation will collectively invest US$35 million in philanthropic contributions and grants by 2023 to improve the employability of youth from low-income and underserved communities in Asia. The bank will also offer 6,000 jobs and 60,000 skills training opportunities for young people at Citi Asia over the next three years. This regional commitment is part of Citi’s expanded global “Pathways to Progress” initiative, which is designed to equip young people with the skills and confidence to improve their employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and make a positive impact in their communities.
Swire Group’s “TrustTomorrow” pledges HK$14 million (approximately US$2 million) for community funding. The TrustTomorrow initiative will fund relief support, benefitting over 100,000 people in Hong Kong through 85 organizations. The initiative aims to support vulnerable groups most affected by the pandemic through efforts focused on food, hygiene, family wellbeing, and social capital. The initiative will also focus on strengthening NGOs during the pandemic by offering in-depth auditing to evaluate where they stand in terms of their digital strategy and what gaps to fill to strengthen their services and operations. TrustTomorrow is larger than just pandemic relief efforts though: the long-term vision of the program is to bring lasting benefits and opportunities to “build a better tomorrow for Hong Kong”. This includes supporting areas such as education, marine conservation, and the arts.
Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek invests in sustainable water fund. A clean-water venture capital fund from clean technology investor Emerald Technology Ventures has attracted US$100 million in commitments. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek is the cornerstone investor, joined by Microsoft, water technology firm SKion Water, water provider Ecolab, and others. The fund is also supported by Enterprise Singapore, a government agency. The fund will invest in early- to expansion-stage businesses that address water challenges around the world. This includes financing technologies that conserve water resources, support sustainable cities, improve resource efficiency, adapt to climate change, and reduce health risks. Emerald Technology Ventures is expanding in the Asia-Pacific region. It opened a Singapore office last year to house a water technology incubator to support local companies.
Singapore to help charities go digital, boost transparency. Singapore plans to roll out three initiatives later this year to help charities strengthen their digital capability, regulatory compliance, and transparency. First, the Charities GoDigital Kit will be launched to help charities build their digital capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth will revise and publish a new transparency framework that helps charities of different sizes define their policy and approach to transparency—ultimately helping them build trust with donors and stakeholders. Third, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, Law Society Pro Bono Services, and Shared Services for Charities have been added to a list of partners who help charities in Singapore access IT solutions, recruit talent, and file annual reports and financial statements at low or no cost. Offering these shared services will help enable charities to be more transparent and productive by allowing them to outsource this work and focus on their activities and programs.
IN OTHER NEWS…
Amnesty suspends India operations after accounts are frozen. Financial Times reports on how Amnesty International is suspending its operations in India after the government has frozen its bank account. Amnesty has had to halt its work and lay off 140 Indian staff members. The Enforcement Directorate, the agency responsible for freezing Amnesty’s bank accounts, has yet to make a statement.
FCRA amendments hurt India’s development and democracy. In her op-ed for Bloomberg, Ingrid Srinath, founding director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, discusses how amendments to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) pose potential hazards to development and democracy in India. Srinath focuses on four of the proposed amendments: the ban on regranting FCRA funds to other FCRA registered organizations; the 20% cap on ‘overhead’ spending; the requirement to provide Aadhaar details of board members and senior functionaries; and the mandate to route all FCRA funds through the State Bank of India, New Delhi. She warns how these amendments could hinder collaboration—a cornerstone of India’s Covid-19 relief efforts—as well as talent recruitment, innovation, and impact measurement in the sector. These amendments will also increase the regulatory burden for social sector organizations, therefore disadvantaging smaller, rural, and grassroots nonprofits. Noshir Dadrawala at the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy also explains the proposed changes in more detail in this article. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 also found that growing oversight of nonprofits receiving foreign funding is having a dampening effect on the sector.
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Who’s Doing Good
Charitable bequests on the rise in Japan. Data disclosed by the National Tax Agency show that charitable bequests are on the rise in Japan with US$440 million donated in 2018, compared to US$58 million in 2010. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 highlights how Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines stand out as the few economies in Asia that offer tax incentives for giving upon death in the form of charitable bequests. According to a survey by the Japan Succession Donation Association, 22.9% of respondents, ages 50-70, said they have considered making a charitable bequest upon death. However, challenges remain as only 1.2% of respondents said they have taken steps to make a bequest by writing a will or through other means.
Asian families shift priorities to community Covid relief. This article highlights how some family offices in Asia are switching their priorities for their impact investments towards supporting local communities impacted by the pandemic. Covid-19 has compelled some family offices to ‘double down’ on their funding efforts, as well as spurred greater collaboration between like-minded family offices. This includes new efforts to support social enterprises, such as the Community Resilience Fund in Hong Kong that provides liquidity support for social enterprises and helps them adapt and continue to support their local community. The Fund was initiated in March 2020 under the auspices of Hong Kong family office RS Group and Social Ventures Hong Kong (SVHK), and it is jointly operated by the Sustainable Finance Initiative.
This year’s “99 Giving Day” breaks record for China internet charity platform by Tencent. Since its establishment in 2015, “99 Giving Day” is considered the most popular annual charity festival in China, jointly initiated by Tencent Charity Foundation and thousands of other charity organizations, enterprises, celebrities, and media. With the theme of “Together We Can,” this year’s event raised a total donation of ¥3.044 billion (nearly US$500 million). More than 5,780 donors, 500 institutions, and 10,000 enterprises participated in the campaign, which broke the record for online giving in China. This year’s event also featured new tools to address transparency and challenges amidst Covid-19, such as charity consumption coupons and blockchain technology, amongst other new initiatives. Also, Tencent Charity Foundation announced that this year it would invest ¥399.9 million (nearly US$60 million) in matching donations.
Alibaba Group launches fourth annual Philanthropy Week with a series of initiatives designed to make giving easier and more transparent. The event featured close to 100 online and offline philanthropic activities, from ensuring nutritious meals reach impoverished children in China to promoting environmental awareness through recycling programs. To increase transparency and encourage donors to give confidently, all contributions are fully trackable with Alibaba’s “Charities on the Chain” solution, which was developed with Ant Group’s blockchain team so that users can see exactly where their donations are going and how they are being used.
Ayala chief: Malls should provide more services to tenants. CEO of Ayala Corp Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said that mall operators need to adapt during Covid-19 and provide more services to help their tenants whose businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Ayala notes that these added services could come in the form of logistics support or more storage space for their tenants’ stocks as online shopping grows in popularity. For example, last month Ayala Malls launched its online Neighborhood Assistant service, which allows customers to shop via the website of their nearest Ayala Mall. SM Prime Holdings, the country’s biggest mall operator, also stated that it was investing PHP 100 million (approximately US$2 million) on expanding its e-commerce presence.
UOB’s private equity arm achieves impact milestone. UOB Venture Management has issued its disclosure statement on the Operating Principles for Impact Management, making it the first Southeast Asian signatory of the Impact Principles (initiated by the World Bank Group), according to the bank. The firm has also recently obtained verification from Ernst & Young for its Asia Impact Investment Fund’s alignment with the principles. Launched in 2015 together with Credit Suisse, the US$55 million fund invests in high-growth companies from the education, healthcare, and agriculture sectors in Southeast Asia and China, which help to improve financial inclusion, affordable housing, sanitation, clean energy, and water for the region’s low-income communities.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Red Cross, and local social enterprise team up to create clean and green care kits for migrant workers and low-income families. More than 300 Marina Bay Sands staff from over 40 departments packed 10,000 care kits in partnership with social enterprise Clean the World Asia and the Singapore Red Cross. Each kit contains essential items such as soap bars and soap bags, hand sanitizer, shampoo, hair conditioner, and surgical face masks. The soap bars are made from discarded soap from Marina Bay Sands’ premises and processed with the help of Clean the World Asia’s soap recycling facilities. The kits will be distributed to beneficiaries of the Singapore Red Cross, including the migrant worker community and low-income families.
MaGIC and Lazada Malaysia team up to promote social enterprise products. The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) has partnered with e-commerce platform Lazada Malaysia to onboard and promote the products and services of social enterprises registered with MaGIC. As part of the #buyforimapct campaign, Lazada will subsidize the online startup costs for social enterprises selected by MaGIC and promote their products and services. Since early August 2020, Malaysians have been able to purchase products made by social enterprises on Lazada via its #buyforimpact page. Throughout September, the campaign will run weekly features of social enterprises championing various causes. Additionally, the campaign will run Demo Days for aspiring social enterprises to showcase their budding businesses to funding agencies and potential investors.
Japan and India team up to help emerging nations go digital. Japan and India will work with technology companies to build platforms that help emerging nations put government services online. The initiative will take inspiration from New Delhi’s online system, which allowed for quick distribution of Covid-19 assistance. Japan’s trade ministry will enlist domestic businesses for the project, and Indian engineers will grant licenses that permit Japanese companies to land contracts for digital platforms from other countries. Japan’s government, which lags in digitizing its systems, also plans to use the knowledge gained from the partnership to advance its own digitization efforts.
Webinar: Asia Society Hong Kong Center Program Charting the Path Forward
Catching the world unaware, Covid-19 has sent the global economy and the lives of billions into a tailspin. In the wake of this pandemic, the public, private, and social sectors must come together to work towards a stronger and more equitable Asia as we build our way out of this crisis. At a time when foreign funding is declining across the region, “Asia for Asia” philanthropy must fill the gap—and the Doing Good Index shows how.
CAPS’ Co-Founder and Chief Executive Ruth Shapiro and Director of Research Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed present the key findings of the index and showcase how governments, philanthropists, companies and the social sector can work together for mutual benefit. This discussion was moderated by Ronnie C. Chan, Co-Founder and Chairman of CAPS and Chairman of Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
Harnessing the philanthropy and finance sectors for social good
This op-ed highlights that most Chinese foundations are not grantmaking organizations, but operating foundations or hybrids. Their limited assets prevent them from supporting NGOs and filling the funding vacuum created by foreign donors leaving the country. Lack of funding is driving NGOs to rely on government procurement, or morph into social enterprises to tap into impact investment capital. Building up foundation investments can help leverage private capital for social good. Read it here.
Who’s Doing Good
Charitable funds boost donation in a tough year for giving. Straits Times highlights how more wealthy people in Singapore are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to charities. According to this article, there were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore during the financial year ending in March 2020. Despite many donors tightening their belts during Covid-19, these charitable funds disbursed SG$20.2 million (approximately US$15 million) during that year.
Hong Kong organizations hoping charity begins at home as economic crunch sees donations dry up. The impact of last year’s civil unrest and Covid-19 has left many Hong Kong charities on the brink of collapse. South China Morning Post spotlights Hong Kong foundations that are stepping in to meet the demand for funding. One example includes Jennifer Chen, CEO of Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, who is leading a campaign called “Bridge the Gap”. The initiative calls on residents to donate all or part of their HK$10,000 (approximately US$1,300) government relief payout to NGOs in need. The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, Fu Tak Iam Foundation, and The Hong Kong Club Foundation will match these public donations up to specified amounts for at least 25 local organizations in need.
A call to digitize Bangladesh’s NGO Affairs Bureau. In this op-ed, associates of The Legal Circle in Bangladesh argue that the government should take immediate measures to digitize the registration process for NGOs. CAPS’ Doing Good Index 2020 found that Bangladesh has one of the longest and most complex registration procedures in Asia. According to this article, there is a severe backlog of registrations, in part due to the influx of NGOs responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis. This backlog is expected to get worse with the Covid-19 pandemic. Digitizing the registration process, they argue, is not only aligned with the government’s vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, but it will also allow NGOs to set up more efficiently and help the country re-build after the crisis.
Capital markets lawyers sharpen impact investing skills. Financial Times highlights how pro bono work in Asia is evolving to embrace new areas of legal expertise, even as Covid-19 restrictions limit traditional pro bono work. This article argues that a longer-term shift towards impact investing—as well as an urgent need for funding in the NGO sector—provides lawyers with an opportunity to contribute their legal expertise in capital markets. The article cites the example of lawyers working pro bono on Impact Investment Exchange’s Women’s Livelihood Bond deal. Since deals in the impact investing space tend to raise smaller sums, legal services priced at market rates would mean very high fees relative to the deal size. Pro bono legal services offer an opportunity to help get this new market off the ground.
Huawei begins ‘Seeds for the Future 2020’ in Bangladesh. Huawei’s flagship CSR program ‘Seeds for the Future’ aims to develop global ICT (information and communication technology) talent by bridging the gap between academic and industry knowledge. The program is part of the company’s long-term CSR activity dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ICT students worldwide. Seeds for the Future has benefitted over 30,000 students around the world, and has recently expanded to Bangladesh. The program aims to help the country achieve its ‘Vision of Digital Bangladesh 2021’ plan by equipping youth with ICT skills that will help them innovate local solutions for local needs.
Mi India pledges 2,500 smartphones worth Rs 2 crores (approximately US$300,000) towards digital inclusion. In addition to recent initiatives to help over 200,000 families affected by Covid-19 and 10,000 families impacted by Cyclone Amphan, Mi India announced a new donation of 2,500 smartphones to students in need. Mi India has partnered with Teach For India, which has shifted to blended learning during India’s lockdown, to distribute phones to children from under-resourced communities and help them access online classes.
Four lessons for launching a social enterprise. In Stanford Social Innovation Review, the founder and team members of Mauqa Online share their lessons from launching and expanding their social enterprise in Pakistan. By sharing what they wish they had done differently at certain points of growth, they hope to help the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they encourage social entrepreneurs to use the enterprise’s social mission to help guide decision making along the way.
Who’s Doing Good?
Singaporeans donated SG$90 million in first five months of 2020, equal to whole of last year’s donations. From January to May of this year, SG$90 million (approximately US$64 million) was donated to the Community Chest, the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund, and through the online donation platform Giving.sg. This amount was around the same as the total donations received by the Community Chest and Giving.sg in the entire year of 2019, according to a joint statement by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Social and Family Development.
17th China Philanthropy Ranking released. The 17th edition of the annual China Philanthropy Ranking, supported by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and the China Charity Times, was released on June 16. This year’s ranking includes 118 philanthropists with a total of ¥5.45036 billion (approximately US$771 million) in donations, and 605 companies with a total of ¥1.245 trillion (approximately US$176 billion) in donations.
GIIN’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey released. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) released the 10th edition of its flagship report, which provides an overview of the global impact investing market. This report includes an updated market sizing analysis—estimating the current market size at US$715 billion—trends analysis, and insights on topics such as climate investing, the evolution of impact measurement, and policy developments over the past decade. CAPS’ recent study, Business for Good: maximizing the value of social enterprises in Asia, points out that impact investment in Asia is not yet living up to its full potential. While Asia accounts for nearly 50% of global GDP, GIIN’s latest report finds that only 14% of global impact investment is allocated to the region.
CEO of Singapore’s NVPC argues corporate giving during Covid-19 more than just a PR exercise. Melissa Kwee, CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), highlights examples of corporate efforts amidst Covid-19 that aligned a company’s purpose and expertise to enable more strategic giving. She cites Temasek, which leveraged its supply chain networks to provide hand sanitizers to all Singaporean households, and the Singapore Metal & Machinery Association, which mobilized a donation of 3,800 sets of PPEs. Kwee states that this is a step up from past CSR efforts that can sometimes be peripheral to the business or more reactive activities that lack a larger strategic intent.
Covid-19 covers 80% of CSR budget for India Inc., according to Crisil Foundation. According to the Foundation, CSR spending thus far has been in the form of contributions to the PM CARES Fund and other relief funds, as well as distribution of food, PPE, and other relief supplies to the needy. The Foundation’s chief operating officer stated, “Interestingly, the 130 companies analyzed by Crisil accounted for nearly 80% of the total CSR spend by all listed companies in fiscal 2019. Assuming other companies would have followed a similar path, India Inc. has already allocated over 80% of the annual CSR budget to address the pandemic. This could impact spending on other areas this fiscal year.”
ASEAN and The Asia Foundation, with support from Google.org, collaborate to equip 200,000 micro and small enterprises with digital skills and tools amidst the Covid-19 crisis. The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and The Asia Foundation have jointly launched ‘Go Digital ASEAN,’ supported by a US$3.3 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm. The initiative will focus on expanding economic opportunities across ASEAN member states and mitigating the negative impact from the Covid-19 crisis. It aims to close the digital divide by equipping micro and small enterprises, as well as underemployed youth in rural and isolated areas, with crucial digital skills and tools.
Largest donation for Philippines’ fight against Covid-19 came from Project Ugnayan of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) at US$29.1 million. PDRF, the Philippines’ major private sector vehicle and coordinator for disaster management, has made the largest contribution to the government’s Covid-19 response to date: US$29.1 million. The next biggest donors to the government’s relief efforts are USAID, San Miguel Corporate, and Unilab. Ayala Group, which took an active part in Project Ugnayan, has set forth an array of other relief efforts to tackle Covid-19 in the Philippines. Recently, Ayala Group donated an automated RNA Extraction machine and two RT-PCR machines to Southern Philippines Medical Center and other institutions, which will help Davao boost its testing capacity to a maximum of 1,000 tests per day.
Tzu Chi Foundation Indonesia raised Rupiah 500 billion (approximately US$36 million) towards fighting Covid-19. The six biggest donors to the Foundation’s Covid-19 initiative were Sinarmas, Djarum, Indofood, Astra, Agung Sedayu Group, and Artha Graha Peduli. The funds will be used to purchase various equipment needed to help handle the outbreak in Indonesia.
Excelerate Energy has become the key sponsor of the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh to support the organization’s Covid-19 relief efforts at the Rohingya camp outside Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh—home to more than a million refugees. The US company’s donation will provide up to 10,000 patients a year with outpatient and in-patient services, diagnostics, critical care, emergency transportation. It will also fund PPE for staff and surrounding community, staff training, and awareness programs.
Mastercard builds on Covid-19 response with commitment to expand financial inclusion initiative. The new commitment—an extension of Mastercard’s 2015 pledge to bring 500 million excluded people into the financial system—will bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro- and small- businesses worldwide into the digital economy by 2025. This article shares examples of Mastercard’s financial inclusion initiatives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
American Express India has pledged INR 9 crores (approximately US$1.2 million) towards Covid-19 relief efforts. This includes contributions to the PM CARES Fund and nonprofits working in Covid-19 relief areas—such as mobilizing essential supplies, providing medical kits, feeding healthcare professionals, and developing and providing PPE to vulnerable communities. American Express India has also partnered in an initiative called ‘Hunger Heroes’ that will help distribute dry rations and essential supplies to the families of 10,000 food delivery riders impacted by the pandemic.
PwC Singapore launches new initiatives to support the community amidst Covid-19. The company is releasing “Digital Fitness for the World,” a learning app aimed at increasing digital acumen and upskilling, to the public for free from June 8 onwards. PwC is also working to help small and medium enterprises accelerate digitization with dedicated digital advisory services, solutions, and upskilling programs. Other Covid-19 initiatives from PwC include purchasing and distributing food to vulnerable communities.
Indonesia-based e-sports company helping fight Covid-19 through streaming, direct action. EVOS Sports, which operates across Southeast Asia, has initiated a number of efforts, including streaming matches and collaborating with influencers and social delivery organizations, to give back. For example, in Malaysia, EVOS Sports’ PUBG Mobile team played matches among themselves over a livestream and encouraged viewers to contribute to the “Give with Ikhlas” charity initiative, which has raised RM1 million (approximately US$230,000) so far. In Thailand and Indonesia, EVOS Sports’ athletes have also stepped on the ground to cook 3,000 meals for the underprivileged and donate 50,000 masks and surgical gloves.